President Bush unwittingly summed up the eight years of his presidency in what was expected to be the final press conference on January 12. “I readily concede I chunked aside some of my free market principles,” Bush said of his moves during the recent financial bailout. “Chunked"? Yes, he used the word “chunked.” The press conference was full of Bushisms like this. He told the press that “Sometimes you misunderestimated me.” Misunderestimated.
With just two weeks left in office, President Bush designated almost 200,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean as a national monument using powers granted by the Antiquities Act of 1906. The new marine "monument," an area about the size of Spain, is the largest protected area of ocean ever established, breaking a previous record also set by Bush in mid-2006, when he decreed 140,000 square miles in Northwest Hawaii off-limits using the same authority.
On January 8, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (along with 11 House colleagues) introduced House Resolution 34, whose title reads: "Recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process." Within a day, H. Res. 34 gained 116 cosponsors and was passed by the House on January 9 (House Roll Call 10) by an overwhelming margin of 390 to 5.
President Bush leaves office amidst the greatest economic calamity in several generations, perhaps ever. The federal budget deficit is poised to triple last year's record $400 billion, rising to a projected $1.2 trillion, perhaps far more. Trillions too have been added to the national debt by a desperate Bush administration and craven Congress, most to bail out America's corporate and financial oligarchs.
According to Henry Kissinger, the various political and economic crises currently conflicting the world offer President-elect Barack Obama an opportunity to create a "new world order." That's what the former Secretary of State told CNBC's Mark Haines in a January 5 interview from the busy floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
On January 5, the nation's new media learned that President-elect Barack Obama would nominate former congressman and Clinton administration official Leon Panetta as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Obama's choice reportedly caught some veteran Democratic senators who had not been briefed of the decision off-guard, and some voiced their skepticism that that Bill Clinton's former chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget possessed sufficient experience in the intelligence field to handle the job.
ITEM: The Chicago Sun-Times reported on December 8: "As gun sales shoot up around the country, President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday that gun-owning Americans do not need to rush out and stock up before he is sworn in next month. 'I believe in common-sense gun safety laws, and I believe in the second amendment,' Obama said at a news conference. 'Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. I think people can take me at my word.'"
A leader of what became known as the "New Right," veteran conservative activist Paul Weyrich passed away on December 18 after a long bout with diabetes. A native of Wisconsin, he began a career in the world of politics as an aide to Colorado Senator Gordon Allott in 1967. While attending a gathering of Washington operatives, he became aghast at the way they openly planned to manipulate public opinion in favor of some liberal causes. So he decided to create a counterforce to propagate conservative thinking.